The battle over a proposed open-pit coal mine in the Crowsnest Pass continues.
After the Grassy Mountain Coal Project was deemed “not in the public interest” by a joint review panel (JRP) in June, Benga Mining Ltd. has announced it is beginning the process to appeal that decision.
In a news release Monday, the company said in part: “The JRP did not properly assess the impact of the project on Indigenous rights and economic interests. Should it proceed, the project would create hundreds of jobs and generate economic benefits for nearby Indigenous groups.”
“The JRP could have addressed any valid concerns with the project by making an approval conditional on strict conditions,” Benga CEO John Wallington said in the same release.
“This well-established and proven approach ensures any development can only proceed with adequate protections in place.”
Piikani Nation chief and council supported the project and is also requesting an appeal of the decision.
Global News reached out to Piikani chief operating officer Clayton Cunningham and councillor Riel Houle, but as of Monday afternoon, had not received a response.
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Local advocates against the project say they will continue challenging the mine.
“We’re going to continue to raise our voices. We’re going to continue to be heard,” said Adam North Peigan, Piikani Mountain Child Valley Society chairman.
“We’re going to continue with our aggressive lobbying efforts to the government of Alberta and the government of Canada.”
“We’re hearing cries from the community for sustainable development, for conservation, for protection of spiritual and cultural areas,” Niitsitapi Water Protectors founder Latasha Calf Robe said.
Blood Tribe members say they weren’t consulted on Grassy Mountain mine
According to Calf Robe, the mine is more than an environmental issue.
“Protection of cultural rights, protections of areas that really matter to the nations of the Blackfoot confederacy and Indigenous peoples in the area who all rely on those areas.”
In denying the project, the joint review panel said the impacts on the environment and Indigenous rights were not worth the financial return.
The Piikani Nation’s request to appeal will be heard in Calgary on Sept. 9.
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